‘No shots near Sukhdev’s seat, why did PSO fire?’

Investigators probing the shootout at the Chhattarpur farmhouse, in which Ponty Chaddha and his younger brother Hardeep were killed, are looking at the role of former Uttarakhand Minorities Commission Chairman Sukhdev Singh Namdhari.

Police on Thursday claimed that Namdhari's men could have aided the liquor baron's aides in taking control of the farmhouse hours before the killings.

Prior to the gun battle on November 17, Ponty's men had allegedly entered the farmhouse, fired in air and snatched the mobile phones from Hardeep's staff before throwing them out.

"Witnesses have given statements claiming Namdhari's men were also part of the group that trespassed into the Chhattarpur farmhouse. We are verifying those statements," Joint CP (Southwest) Vivek Gogia said.

Claiming that "no one has been given a clean chit", Gogia said, "We would like to talk to him (Namdhari). He is not with us."

Police are also probing the role of Sachin Tyagi, Namdhari's PSO who allegedly opened fire at Hardeep in "self-defence". Police said there were no bullet marks near Namdhari's seat and, prima facie, it did not appear that there was any imminent threat to Namdhari. This has raised questions on why Tyagi opened fire.

Police have also arrested a caretaker of Ponty's family — Mathura Singh Mehra (30) — for allegedly facilitating the trespass of Ponty's men and providing ammunition to them.

"The caretaker was working with Ponty for seven years. He assisted Ponty's men. He was aware of the attempts at Chhattarpur and Bjiwasan. He facilitated them in the provision of weapons," Gogia said. This is the seventh arrest in the case.

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